Harding accounting students assist community with taxes

Harding accounting students assist community with taxes

As April 15 draws nearer, the Volunteer Income Tax
Assistance program is in full swing at Harding University.

Accounting majors enrolled in the federal tax course volunteer each
Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. to assist members of the Searcy community
and Harding staff with their federal income taxes. David Allen,
associate professor of accounting, oversees the 23- year-old program.

According to Leslie Wilkinson, a senior accounting major from
Springdale, Ark., the 16 students enrolled in the course had to pass
tests from the IRS to become certified as basic tax preparers. Once
they achieved certification, students began working with clients each
week as part of their grade for the class.

Generally, each student assists one to two clients per session, so the
class averages between 20 and 25 tax returns every week. Allen answers
questions and proofs each form before clients leave with completed

Wilkinson has thoroughly enjoyed her experience, heightening her
interest in pursuing a career in tax preparation. However, she says
that the best part has been connecting with people. “It’s really neat
to get to know people in the community, and they have been so
understanding and so friendly,” says Wilkinson.

Wilkinson has assisted several clients and spends extra time with them
while waiting for Allen to check the forms. They often discuss
everything from movies, travel, and Facebook to home Bible studies.

Senior accounting major Austin Bryan from Charlotte, N.C., says that
volunteering has been a rewarding experience, both as an accounting
student focused on taxes and as a Harding student interested in giving
back to his community.

“It’s amazing to be able to practice something as complex as tax
returns and also to be able to help people in the community who are so
thankful,” says Bryan.

After completing a tax return for a mother of two, Bryan was able to
visit with his client about her family, vacation plans and even where
she attends church. “It’s really cool to see the relationships and
trust that is built in working with people for only a few short
hours,” he says.